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I’m sure we all remember the feeling of being told you’re gonna be a dad. Feeling anxious, nervous, excited! The 12 week scan arrives and you see your baby! It’s strange but this little black and white photo  makes things much more real. As the weeks pass and the better half updates you on how awful she feels. Morning sickness. How baby is growing“ now the size of a grape then a lemon ect“ We’re sat in bed googling baby names. Looking at cars we can’t afford…. family cars of course. Soon comes the “we need to tell People” you have your scan picture and are ready to share your amazing news! Your Facebook is going mad and the world shares your excitement. Your bond to his little human being is growing day by day.

I remember being lay in bed one night after coming home from the hospital. Emma had been kept in due to a bleed. It had become routine for us, in and out of hospital. Emma was always discharged after a scan and being checked over. Only this time the outcome would change our lives!  I was woken by the sound of my phone. It was the hospital, they said I needed to get back ASAP. Every scenario went through my head. Once at the hospital I was rushed to labour ward. A nurse lead me to a room where Emma was. I was confused, anxious and scared. Emma looked at me and apologised, tears rolling down her face. I knew my worst  fears had become a reality. Emma was in labour. We had decided to name our baby girl Ada. I paced up the room a small part of me thinking we could fix things. But not this time though because Ada was on her way. I held Emma’s hand as our perfect little angel entered the world sleeping. Seeing her broke me.  The next few hours I can only describe as an emotional roller coaster. I was heartbroken and angry why had this happened? Seeing Emma holding Ada crippled me, she was perfect. The midwives were amazing, thoughtful, caring and understanding. I was a mess but I hid it well.As strange as it sounds knowing our Ada was sleeping and would not wake up, we couldn’t leave her. The thought of leaving her in the hospital, how could I do that as her daddy ! It got later and later myself and Emma knew we had to leave at some point. We said our goodbyes and what was left of my heart broke even more.

We both struggled. Family and friends came to pay their respects and say they understood. I remember thinking “ do you understand? I don’t think you do!” We would see friends, they would console Emma while I stood awkwardly in the background. The day of Ada’s funeral came and I cried a lot! In the days that followed I would find Emma sat staring at Ada’s photos. I tried not to look at them as I really struggled to maintain a strong front. I needed to keep it together for both our sake.  Emma wasn’t coping and reached out for support. As time passed I was getting better at fighting back the tears I returned to work. Ada was always on my mind. I guess time heals as they say, emotions get less raw.

One day Emma said she had something to show me ….. a pregnancy test. Positive! We had said we wanted to try again but we didn’t think it would happen so fast. Long story short, we were very anxious and nervous. Emma was monitored closely with weekly scans. We had a scan at 25 weeks and it showed everything was normal and decided to tell close family and friends. The following night I woke to at 2am to find Emma up and about. I could tell she was panicked. She had had a show and was convinced she had contractions. My mind went into overdrive. I couldn’t go through this again. We dashed to the hospital was seen by a consultant within minutes. I was waiting for them to say it was all OK. The consultant looked at Emma and said “ I would love to say your wrong but you’re 5cm dilated “ My heart sank. Emma was rushed into theatre for an emergency C Section. I remember scrubbing up feeling sick and anxious. I was led to theatre to sit behind a screen with Emma. I felt so sorry for her she had been through so much.

It seemed like a lifetime had passed when I heard a very tiny cry. We looked at each other through tears. Our baby girl was here! This was the beginning of another journey. Emma was taken back to the ward to rest.  I was advised to go home and get some sleep….. sleep? No thank you, I’ll pass on the sleep and wait to see what’s going on. A nurse came in and asked if “Dad” would like to come see the baby. I was nervous as I made my way to the NICU. Entering the neonatal unit is difficult to describe. It’s all monitors, leads and tubes! Alarms sounds you only really hear on TV. I was lead to an incubator where a tiny baby lay. I was told she weighed 820g!. “ This is your daughter Mr Horan “ anyone who sees a very premature baby for the first time will understand when I say it’s a shock. Our little Isla was covered in tubes and wires.

The next few weeks were a blur of going to the hospital 2 to 3 times per day. To say the journey was bumpy is an understatement. One day everything is OK, your baby is doing well. The same hour everything can change and you fear your going to lose your child.  Myself, Emma and our family had this constant worry. Trying to maintain a normal life for our other daughter who was 7 at the time. Working, running a home, bills. All the normal stuff gets pushed to one side. We had recently purchased a house just to add that to the mix. Life was hectic to say the least. But no matter what we had going on our daughter Isla and her fight to be here was our main priority. Certain points throughout the whole experience stand out more than others. I remember this one day going into the hospital tired from work and lack of sleep. Getting to the unit made me nervous as each day brought a new challenge and  you never knew what to expect. Emma was with Isla, she spent every hour she could by her cot side. I had been there a few hours said I would go get us some lunch. I got back to find Emma in tears in the corridor in tears. Isla was struggling to maintain her breathing. The doctors and nurses were trying to bring her back round. I was speechless, I just wanted to go back into the room and find out what was going on. Eventually with the help of the amazing doctors and nurses they managed to get Isla breathing again.

The journey of a premature baby…… constant highs and lows. Maybe this explains my grey hairs at 33 years old! After along 16 weeks in 3 different hospitals. Lots of procedures and stress. Not to mention a LOT of coffee. Isla came home! A day we thought would never come!

The wait was 1000% worth it! I can’t thank the NICU teams enough, those guys are the reason we have our little family!